Proud to be in the community
W. J. Farrier & Son was established in 1948 by Walter (Jack) Farrier and his wife Olive.
Initially the business operated from their own home on London Road in Dover, where the funeral arrangements were made in their front room and Jack converted a back room into a chapel of rest.
Jack made the coffins by hand in a workshop above a coal merchant, which was opposite their home and the funeral vehicles were hired in from a local carriage master.
It didn’t take long for the business to start growing, and Jack was regularly seen leading funerals through the streets of Dover. He became a well-known local figure and was renowned for his caring nature and generosity, as well as always attending the wakes to spend a bit more time with the grieving families.
A Family-Run Business
In the late 1950s, Jack and Olive’s only child, Derek, joined the business after studying at the Dover Grammar School for boys. He assisted his dad in the workshop and after a short while, as a bearer on the funerals.
In the following years, the business grew even more and Jack, Olive, and Derek agreed that they needed some premises to operate from. By chance, a former chemist shop became available directly opposite their home and it was swiftly purchased.
The shop was converted into a funeral home and consisted of an arrangement office, chapel of rest, mortuary, workshop, and living accommodation on the first and second floors.
In the early 1970s, Derek persuaded Jack to purchase their own fleet of funeral vehicles and they took delivery of an Austin Princess hearse and 2 matching limousines. The vehicles were kept at the newly acquired garages on Old Park Hill in Dover.
Derek and his wife Lynda moved into the flat above the premises and alongside Jack and Olive, they continued to push the business forward and establish it as the leading funeral home in Dover.
By the early 1980s, the Austen Princesses had been replaced by Ford Granadas™.
In the early 1990s, the business needed to expand again and the neighbouring property was acquired. This was redeveloped and gave the business another arrangement office and a further chapel of rest.
By the late 1990s, Derek and Lynda’s youngest child, James, joined the business after studying at Astor School in Dover and set about learning the trade from his parents.
In 2004, it was decided that the business needed larger premises, although searching for a suitable property proved quite difficult. The Farrier family eventually purchased the former coal merchant’s property, which was directly behind the existing premises. This was where Jack had his workshop in the early years. This was to be a major redevelopment and took over a year to complete.
The new building consisted of an extensive workshop and coffin store, a new coffin showroom, further chapels of rest, garaging, a large mortuary, and embalming theatre as well as a much-needed car park.
Taking on New Roles
Also during this time, the Farrier family acquired Thomas Family Undertakers in Folkestone after the proprietor passed away. Derek and Lynda’s youngest daughter, Julie, joined the business and she took the role of overseeing the new branch.
Derek and Lynda’s eldest child, Sarah, also joined the business and assisted in the office.
In the following years, the Farrier family continued to improve and update the business while keeping the traditional values firmly in place.
The business would not be where it is today without three special people:
Olive Farrier had been influential in the early years, ensuring that the business was run efficiently. She passed away in 2001.
Walter (Jack) Farrier was the heart and soul of the business and his gentle way always eased clients’ grief. He passed away in 2002.
Derek Farrier was a stalwart within the funeral profession. He juggled the ‘old-school’ way of funeral directing with the ever-increasing modern theories and served over 50 years in the family business. In 2012, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and after a hard battle, he sadly passed away in April 2013 aged 70.
A Thriving Business Today
The Farrier family continue to operate from the original premises on London Road in Dover, Bouverie Road West in Folkestone and Red Lion Square in Hythe, and still house some of their vehicles at the original garages on Old Park Hill in Dover.
W. J. Farrier & Son has an extensive fleet of Jaguar hearses and limousines, which add a touch of class to any funeral. They also have a fleet of first-call vehicles, which are equipped to deal with any situation.
‘As a family, we are very proud of what we have achieved since 1948, and carrying on the family tradition is a way of life for us. We are devoted to upholding an uncompromised level of professionalism, care, and support to those we serve.
We have built a strong relationship of trust within the community. We were all born in the local area and we all live and work there.’
‘When you need us, we’ll be there.’